A Journey from Self-doubt to Self-acceptance

“The only mistake a person can make is to not believe in themselves and the validity of their dreams.”

I overheard someone say this in a café some years back.

The wisdom of this profoundly simple truth has stayed with me ever since. Not only has it stuck with me, it started me on a path that has changed my life in subtle, and eventually profound ways. It has reverberated inside, reaching into the deepest parts of me, casting an effervescent light on all my self-doubt and fear. It has illuminated all the ways I thought I failed, all the times I thought I let myself down. It has shed light on all the dreams I abandoned on this long and winding road, and the ways I used those “failures” as cause to judge myself. It has begun to fill all these parts of me with the radiance of self-acceptance.

My artistic pursuits have been many over the years. I have had numerous attempts at making a living with my creative endeavors (some more successful than others). I have set goals and failed to reach many of them, only to replace them with the next shiny new idea. But deep down, I always believed in myself and my dreams. At least I have not failed at that. There have been times, however, when I have forgotten who I am and why I am here… times when I strayed too far from the path and lost my way, and struggled to return to my purpose and to believing.

Self-worth is a worthy enterprise. It is also one of the most difficult human qualities to cultivate. There are so many ways to feel less than. It may seem like there is someone or something around every turn, waiting to hinder our progress, weaken our confidence, seed self-doubt, promote powerlessness, foster negativity, but none more effective than the inner workings of our own minds. If we are being honest with ourselves, we will eventually come to the realization that we are standing in our own way.

But if the statement above is true—if the only mistake we can make is to not believe in ourselves and the validity of our dreams, then we have not had a succession of failures, we’ve had a series of valuable life experiences and micro-successes along the way that bring us ever closer to the person we are meant to be. My wise-woman mother once told me, “You never really “arrive” at who you want to be. The joy is in the becoming. If you can embrace the adventure along the way, with all the peaks and valleys life has to offer, you will be a success… at living.” Mum was right.

Set goals, yes, but enjoy the journey. Nothing is ever quite how we think it’s going to be when we get there. Sometimes it’s even better. Sometimes it falls short of our expectations (perhaps because our imaginations are boundless), but if you have enjoyed the ride, learned from the lessons, improved and evolved, stayed present, loved well, danced across the stepping stones, and laughed at all the imperfections, you will have spent your life well in the getting there. And if we spend our moments well, the destination doesn’t have to live up to our expectations. Rather, it is just another stop along the way… another lesson to learn from, another reason to celebrate life, another opportunity to dance!

So… what if you truly believed that the only mistake you can make is not believing in yourself and the validity of your dreams?

Think about it. 

If that is the ONLY mistake you can make, then ALL the other “mistakes” you made were not mistakes at all. They were just stepping stones in the stream of life. Yeah, okay, sometimes they look more like stumbling blocks. Sometimes you fall in and are carried by the current to a place you never thought you’d be, but if you can stop seeing mistakes, you will start seeing opportunities. Then, no matter where you end up, you will look around, and find the gift the moment has to offer, hidden amid the bracken. You will discover that life can surprise you in unexpected and wonderful ways if you are open to it. You will begin to trust that there is a reason you ended up where you are. That there is a valuable lesson to be learned, something with which to grow your soul… something valuable you may need at some point down the road. You may even come to realize that you were meant to be there all along.

When you start looking for the gift in every situation, you will find it.

Even knowing this, I still stumble. I still fall. I lose sight of this lesson… this gift… and I must re-remember it again and again. Life is a stream, ever-bending, ever-changing. It will continue to challenge us so that we can continue to evolve. And what I have learned… what I know to be true after six decades on this planet… is that self-acceptance and self-respect are two of the most important stepping stones in the stream of life. 

Be good to yourself.

♡ Elayne

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